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Opinion

Newcastle United players who can play for Leeds United

10 months ago
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On Wednesday night we saw the Newcastle United players up against Leeds United.

Despite the result, many Newcastle fans saying afterwards it was the best game (involved NUFC) they had seen this season.

Newcastle did have their moments in the game, mainly when the home side were leaving clear opportunities to get at them when possession was lost, but far more than that, it was watching the approach to the game from Marcelo Bielsa.

Some great football played and inevitably leading to comparisons from Newcastle fans to what they used to watch when Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson were managing on Tyneside.

Bielsa’s side are nowhere near the level of those excellent Newcastle teams of the 1990s and 2000s BUT Leeds United are pursuing excellence.

They are playing football the right way with high energy, high pressing and a commitment to going forward, creating as many chances as possible and hoping they can convert as many as possible into goals.

Talk about provoking pangs of nostalgia!

As I was watching this chronic mismatch of footballing styles on Wednesday night, I began thinking which Newcastle United players could play for Leeds United. Not whether Newcastle United players could / should make a best eleven if you combined the two squads. More a case of which NUFC players could / would be capable of playing that kind of progressive attacking football style…

You need individuals (who are also team players) who are willing to be brave, to keep and pass the ball when under pressure, who generally have a bit of face, who have high fitness levels etc etc.

I have gone through Steve Bruce’s squad and looked at all the players, picking out those who I feel definitely could fit in and play that kind of Leeds United football that we would love to see return to St James Park, as well as some current NUFC players who I feel would possibly be able to.

GOALKEEPERS

Dubravka, Darlow, Gillespie

Definite – Dubravka, Darlow

RIGHT-BACKS

Manquillo, Krafth, Yedlin

LEFT-BACKS

Dummett, Lewis

Possible – Lewis

CENTRE-BACKS

Lascelles, Fernandez, Schar, Clark

Definite – Schar Possible – Fernandez

WINGERS / ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Ritchie, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Murphy, Fraser

Definite – Almiron Possible – Fraser, ASM

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Shelvey, Hendrick, Matty Longstaff

STRIKERS

Joelinton, Gayle, Carroll, Wilson

Definite – Wilson Possible – Gayle

So to round the above up:

Definite – Wilson, Almiron, Schar, Dubravka, Darlow

Possible – Gayle, Fraser, ASM, Fernandez, Lewis

I think the Leeds keeper looks decent but certainly the performances of Dubravka and now Darlow would suggest there is no reason why they wouldn’t be good for Leeds United as well.

I think Fabian Schar would really thrive in a team that plays football and as a central defender very good at playing / bringing the ball out of defence. Wilson undoubtedly would be excellent playing that style, whilst I think Miguel Almiron as well would be very good, more open play for his to run and carry the ball and play one-twos etc, as well as his undoubted workrate tracking back.

As for possibles, I think Jamal Lewis has got the basics to play in that type of team, fairly quick and likes getting forward. We haven’t really seen enough of him to judge properly yet, especially playing under this clueless Steve Bruce ‘style’ of play.

Fernandez is not too bad on the ball and could maybe be the token central defender who almost always hangs back and acts as an anchor for this Leeds United team.

With Dwight Gayle, it is maybe just the feeling that he lacks that extra quality to be a Premier League regular starter, though he obviously would show up better in this type of Leeds side.

Again, we haven’t seen enough of Ryan Fraser to really judge, though he is a strong possible, whilst as for ASM…great dribbling skills as we all know but certainly this season looking a bit demotivated at times and not always keen to work back. That is the kind of thing Marcelo Bielsa wants and needs the way his Leeds United side play, everybody working hard going forwards and back the other way. Saint-Maximin probably the main player who has had his creativity crushed by Steve Bruce’s negativity.

No surprise we don’t have an NUFC right-back good enough, still desperate for one to be brought into the club. Players such as Lascelles and Dummett not good enough on the ball or mobile enough to play this kind of Leeds United football.

However, it is central midfield where Newcastle United really suffer I believe. None of them remotely able, in my opinion, to play this kind of progressive attacking football at pace.

I’m amazed at how often I hear positive comments about our central midfielders, because for me, they are easily the biggest weakness in the Newcastle United team and squad.

Sean Longstaff has gone so far back under Bruce’s coaching / management and it is so sad to see, looked to have real promise but a long time since we saw that.

Jeff Hendrick is nowhere near good enough for Newcastle, never mind trying to play the Leeds United current style of football, whilst I don’t see Matty Longstaff as a Premier League regular of the future.

Jonjo Shelvey has such an easy life of it up here it is untrue, gets praised for doing the bare minimum, which isn’t too often either! His workrate is woeful and if he even tried to play in that Leeds United style, I think he would be stretchered off after 10 minutes struggling to get his breath!

Isaac Hayden is probably the best of a poor bunch but I get the feeling as well with him, that he gets a very easy ride, loads of compliments for not really doing that much. He does put in decent performances a fair bit of the time but only really in the sense of being an extra defender. He contributes almost nothing going forward, not even starting off moves, whilst his touch isn’t always great, sad to say, he would be nowhere near good enough to play in that Leeds United midfield.

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